Registered Israeli foreign agent driving contrived campus antisemitism crisis

By WYATT REED – The Grey Zone

Lawsuits accusing top US universities of harboring antisemitism all originate from one source: a corporate law firm that fielded the pro-settler ex-US ambassador to Israel, and which was registered as a foreign agent of an Israeli principal as recently as 2021.

The firm now represents professional Israel lobby activists posing as victimized “Jewish students” and seeking to crush the free speech rights of Palestine solidarity activists.

The fallout from December 5 House Committe on Antisemitism hearings has already cost University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill her job, while demands by billionaire pro-Israel donors and politicians for the firing of Harvard’s Claudine Gay have grown by the day. Both stand accused of refusing to condemn calls for the genocide of Jews, even though no such calls have taken place on their campuses.

Meanwhile, little attention has been paid to the forces orchestrating the carefully choreographed, heavily-funded campaign to crush Palestine solidarity activism on campus.

The law firm leading the assault on the universities has included David Friedman, the former ambassador to Israel under Donald Trump, among its partners. Until 2021, this firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, was registered with the US Department of Justice as a foreign agent on behalf of an Israeli principal.

The firm’s clients include associates of a jailed Ukrainian billionaire who bankrolled neo-Nazi militias, along with a who’s who of corporations accused of defrauding and even killing consumers.

Meanwhile, the “Jewish student” witnesses who set the stage for the attacks on Magill and her fellow university presidents at the House Antisemitism Committee were employed on at least a semi-professional basis by Israeli lobbying cutouts.

They included Jonathan Frieden, a Harvard Law student who moonlights as president of Alliance for Israel; MIT graduate student Talia Khan, the president of MIT Israel Alliance; and Bella Ingber, co-president of NYU’s Students Supporting Israel.

Israel lobbyist moonlighting as UPenn student calls for Covid-style lockdowns on Palestine protests

The most harrowing — and clearly questionable — claims furnished during the December 5 congressional hearings came courtesy of Eyal Yakoby, an Israeli-American senior at UPenn.

“Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve… read the statement, ‘Ninety-percent of pigs are gas chambered!’ on the pavement as I walked to class,” Yakoby moaned.

The most likely explanation for the appearance of this phrase on UPenn’s Locust Walk was not the presence of chalk-wielding neo-Nazis but rather, that of animal welfare advocates, who were presumably calling attention to the fact that most pigs are killed by slaughterhouses which employ a grotesque method of gas inhalation exposed by activists in late 2022.

“‘You’re a dirty little Jew and you deserve to die’ are not words said by Hamas, but by my classmates and my professors,” Yakoby claimed during a December 5 press conference convened by the House GOP leadership. Oddly, he neglected to name a single student or UPenn employee responsible for such inflammatory remarks.

Conjuring up images of a campus overwhelmed by Hamas-linked hatemongers, Yakoby seemed to call for imposing Covid-era lockdowns on students protesting Israel’s blood-drenched assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

“During Covid, strict guidelines governed everything from class attendance and graduation walks,” he said. “But now, when students and faculty defy policies to intimidate Jewish students, where is the same resolute enforcement?”


Lawsuits target top US campuses with flimsy, unprovable allegations

Just hours after his appearance alongside members of Congress, Yakoby filed a lawsuit against UPenn, claiming the university violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by failing to respond to antisemitism.

Yakoby’s lawsuit was filled with dubious, highly politicized accusations, including complaints about the chanting of “antisemitic slurs” such as “Intifada revolution” and “from the river to the sea.”

A closer examination of other incidents described in the lawsuit against Penn reveals a great number of them appear to have been seriously exaggerated or manufactured out of whole cloth.

The most ‘threatening’ episode described by the Yakoby, for example, consists of a man who “threateningly approached him” and “yelled ‘fuck you.’” As a result of this experience — and the agony apparently endured when the plaintiff observed other students removing posters showing Israeli captives — the suit claims that “Yakoby missed his next two classes” because he was “shaken by these escalating acts of hate.”

The vast majority of claims of overt antisemitism appear to consist of statements by students and professors who criticized the state of Israel but generally took pains to distinguish between the political ideology of Zionism and the religion of Judaism.

Elsewhere, the lawsuit accuses professors of antisemitism because they questioned now-debunked Israeli atrocity propaganda about the October 7 attacks, including a demonstrably false claim by Yakoby that the “killing of 40 [Israeli] babies” by Palestinian militants had been “confirmed.”

Many of the alleged incidents described as “assaults” fail to meet basic evidentiary standards, leaving the court with no option but to take the plaintiffs’ word that the contents of the complaint happened as described.

Claims that a Jewish student was taunted with exhortations to “keep walking you dirty little Jew,” for instance, are typical of the highly suspect claims found throughout the lawsuit.

Indeed, no proof of this alleged interaction was provided, nor did the plaintiff’s provide even a vague sketch of the assailant’s identity. Instead, the entire emphasis is placed on the supposed lack of “sympathy” subsequently shown to the student by a professor who decided not to award her an “extension on her class lecture note assignment.”

The plaintiffs also took aim at Palestinian academic and poet Refaat Alareer, who had been invited to a literary festival at Penn before being murdered in a December 6 Israeli strike described by human rights monitors as a “targeted assassination.”

The demands of the pro-Israel activists include “terminating deans, administrators, professors and other employees” who they say are “responsible for the antisemitic abuse permeating the school, whether because they engaged in it or permitted it; suspending or expelling students who engage in such conduct… the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism,” and “compensatory, consequential, and punitive [financial] damages.”

Israel lobbyists are also targeting America’s most expensive campus, New York University, leveling a litany of flimsy and unprovable antisemitism allegations to extract heavy financial damages, including a full refund of tuition. Bella Ingber, who also featured prominently at the House Republican press conference, is a leading face of the NYU lawsuit.


During the Republican presser, Ingber compared conditions at NYU to life under the German Nazi Reich.

“Since Oct. 7,” Ingber said, “the unmistakable anti-Semitism that I have experienced on campus is reminiscent of the Jew-hatred I’ve heard about from my grandparents, Holocaust survivors who experienced first-hand the deafening silence of their neighbors in Poland and Germany when the Nazis first rose to power.”

The plaintiffs of the Israel lobby-led lawsuit “request that a judgment be entered in each of their favor, and against NYU” which would see the university “terminating deans, administrators, professors and other employees responsible for the antisemitic abuse permeating the school, whether because they engaged in it or permitted it… suspending or expelling students who engage in such conduct,” and “compensatory and punitive damages.”

In other words, the lawsuit seeks campus-wide regime change, replacing any and all administrators with those willing to take instructions from the Israel lobby.

“Bibi Netanyahu’s guys in the Trump White House” lead legal assault on campus speech

If the language of the NYU lawsuit sounds familiar, that is because it was brought by the same high-powered corporate legal firm presiding over the legal action against UPenn: Kasowitz Benson Torres, best known for its work on behalf of former President Donald Trump. The firm’s leadership has been aptly described as “Bibi Netanyahu’s guys in the Trump White House.”

The law firm was known as Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman until 2017, when its partner, David Friedman left to become US Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has been credited with working alongside former presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner to pressure Trump into adopting more radically anti-Palestinian positions.

The firm was founded in 1993 by attorney Marc Kasowitz, who gained national notoriety for his work representing Big Tobacco, describing himself as one of the “most feared lawyers in the United States.” Though reports describe him as a strong Trump ally and a go-to source for the former president, financial disclosures show Kasowitz and his wife have donated thousands of dollars to Democratic politicians as well, including former President Barack Obama, current President Joe Biden, and Sen. Chuck Schumer. Also employed by the firm is former Sen. Joe Lieberman, a hardcore neoconservative who now serves as chairman of the pro-war United Against a Nuclear Iran. While in Congress, Lieberman advocated for moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as far back as 1995.

A quick glance at Kasowitz Benson Torres’ recent handiwork reveals a lengthy track record of defending Goliath from David. For example, its website boasts of successfully defending Comcast against a class-action lawsuit by angry customers. Other high-profile clients include Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva, best known for causing the ongoing worldwide shortage of a vincristine — a crucial drug in treating most types of childhood cancers with no known substitute — after it deemed production insufficiently profitable.

In 2019, the firm signed on to represent the US-based co-defendants of notoriously-corrupt Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who now languishes in a Kiev prison and is known for bankrolling current president Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian military’s neo-Nazi Azov Regiment. Ukrainian financial giant Privatbank maintains that Kolomoisky and his associates defrauded the bank out of billions of dollars.

A year later, Kasowitz Benson Torres was required to register as a foreign agent with the US Justice Department after agreeing to represent an Israeli real estate developer specializing in building luxury condos for ulra-Orthodox Jews living in illegal settlements.

From the 2021 FARA registration form by Kasowitz Benson Torres

This November, The Grayzone revealed a leaked letter signed by David Friedman and delivered to NYU administrators in advance of the lawsuit. The letter demanded NYU establish a position dedicated to “combating antisemitism,” and disband student clubs dedicated to Palestine activism.

Now, the law firm’s crusade to crush the free speech rights of Palestine solidarity activists is spreading across the country. This November, two of the firm’s partners revealed that the legal team plans similar suits for Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, MIT, Stanford, and UC-Berkeley, accusing them all of “deliberate indifference” to the supposed plight of Jewish students.

One thought on “Registered Israeli foreign agent driving contrived campus antisemitism crisis

  1. “…professional Israel lobby activists posing as victimized ‘Jewish students’ and seeking to crush the free speech rights of Palestine solidarity activists.”

    Can’t add much more to that.


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